From a kicky gastrobar on a rooftop to an underground yakitori omakase joint, Singapore is dotted with cool hidden gems that’s worth the hunt.
Google maps may help a wee bit, the the GPS definitely won’t point you towards the entrance. Boasting tiny, inconspicuous signboards to back alley doorways, finding these “secret” restaurants and bars neatly tucked away in the CBD area and hipster neighbourhoods add to the exciting dining experience—especially when the end product is a sumptuous meal in an inviting atmosphere. Go forth and find these five great hidden gems.
Don’t be fooled by the address; Gemmills entrance is actually located at the end of Gemmill Lane. Boasting new Mediterranean-inspired dishes to the menu. CBD dwellers looking for a light, yet satisfying lunch will enjoy the Quinoa Tabouleh Salad; Inka-grilled chicken and cauliflower are tossed together with pomegranate, fresh mint, green chili and greek yoghurt. Winning the hearts of everyone at the dining table was the decadent lamb lasagne, with its tender, hand-shredded lamb that’s braised overnight in red wine and hidden beneath a comforting layer of Gorgonzola and Manchego cheese sauce. 110 Amoy Street. Tel: 6221 5564
Just like Gemmills, if you’re taking a cab to Burger Joint it’s best to tell your driver to drop you off at Gemmill Lane instead of Amoy Street. Then, follow the neon-lit burger sign and you will find this NYC offshoot hidden behind two black aluminium doors. Classic burgers grace the menu, along with craft beers on tap. Imported fresh from USA, the beef is grounded in-house and never frozen, ensuring quality. #01-03 115 Amoy Street. Tel: 6221 8648.
Chong Wen Ge Café
Hidden away in Peranakan tile gallery and beside Thian Hock Keng temple, this quaint café pays homage to Singapore’s local history with its Peranakan tiles flooring, wooden tables and chairs, and old-school plates. The food served place heavy emphasis on tradition, such as their colourful assorted Nonya kuehs that’s handmade with love daily. Not to be missed is the decadent mee siam which comprises of a huge prawn and abalone clams. Come early during lunch to snag a spot at their coveted pavilion seating. 168 Telok Ayer Street. Tel: 8688 3028
Hidden behind Hua Bee kopitiam (aka the filming ground of Singapore cult movie, Mee Pok Man) is Bincho, a hip yakitori-gastro bar that aims to excite. Entrance is by the back door in a gritty alleyway dotted with dustbins and air-conditioning units, which honestly, adds to the dining experience. Get a spot by the counter and order one of their three dinner sets— Bincho Express ($68), Tori Zukushi ($90) or Haru Kake ($120). The menu is seasonal and rotates quite frequently, but you are always assured a piece of their popular tori (chicken). #01-19 78 Moh Guan Terrace. Tel: 6438 4567
Knowing it’s on the top floor of People’s Park Complex’s carpark won’t save you from getting lost – the lift doesn’t bring you there straight. Instead, you have to take either Lift 1 or 2 to level 5 first, before climbing up a dingy stairwell to the sixth floor. But it’s all worth it though, for the gorgeous view of Chinatown and scrummy mod-sin tapas. We especially love the Poached Chicken Sushi ($8), which tasted exactly like good chicken rice thanks to the garlic and chilli garnishing. #06-00 People’s Park Complex, 1 Park Road. Tel: 6908 5809